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British charity boss found guilty of sexually abusing Kenyan street kids

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A former teacher in a British public school has been convicted of sexually abusing young boys in Kenya after he set up a charity in the African country. Simon Harris, of Pudlestone near Leominster in Herefordshire, had already admitted indecently assaulting three teenage pupils at a private school in Devon during the 1980s. But he denied abusing young boys between 2001 and 2013 in Kenya, where he set up a charity in which he worked with local schools.

He was today found guilty of five sex assaults, including some against a victim as young as nine, and two counts of indecent assault at Birmingham Crown Court.

In a promotional video made for Harris's charity, VAE, he was pictured with his arm around a street child

Harris was also found guilty of four counts of possessing indecent images of children. Jurors acquitted him of seven charges including ****, attempted **** and sexual assault. Judge Philip Parker QC directed the jury that he would accept majority verdicts on the remaining five offences on the indictment, which include an allegation of **** against a child under 13. The 55-year-old's landmark trial has heard and seen testimony from witnesses through a 6,500-mile video link.

The court heard his victims were all Kenyan street children, 'with nobody to look after them', living a 'desperate' existence sleeping under cardboard boxes and in the doorways. Opening the case against Harris in October, Kevin Hegarty QC, prosecuting said the 55-year-old would drive into the town and encourage young boys into his white Land Rover, bribing them with 'food and money', before driving back to his home, known locally as The Green House.

The court heard Harris spent six months of nearly every year between the early 1990s and 2013 living in the Kenyan town of Gilgil. There he ran a charity called VAE which helped arrange teaching placements in Kenya for British gap-year students. But Harris used his African property to accommodate his 'desperately poor' victims, plying them with alcohol, before washing and abusing them.

His case was the first instance of detectives using new legislation allowing them to prosecute British nationals for committing sexual crimes in Africa. Witnesses described regularly seeing Harris's car full of street children, who would go back to his home, be given a meal, and then sleep on the floor of his house.

Mr Hegarty told the court: "Mr Harris would fix up placements for students at a local school. However he had this sexual interest in young boys and Mr Harris would drive into Gilgil in his white Land Rover and pick up boys who lived on the streets in desperately poor conditions. When a white man drives into town in his Land Rover it becomes a bit of a magnet because he will hand out cash, some cigarettes, offer to feed them and take some in his Land Rover back up out of town to the Green House. It was at the Green House that they would be washed. That was quite a regular thing that happened when boys were brought to that particular place. And if they were fancied they would be encouraged to come into his bedroom. He would also got boys to pose naked, and explained if he had naked pictures of the boys that would help get donations for them."

The shocking offences only came to light when a street child spoke to documentary-makers who were filming for Channel 4 programme, Unreported World. The child made allegations about Harris in March 2013, and an investigation was then launched jointly by West Mercia Police and the National Crime Agency's Chief Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Several more children then came forward to complain about Harris and he was charged in July 2013 under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Harris already has a conviction for possessing indecent images of children from 2009. He has also pleaded guilty to six sexual offences in relation to three boys back between 1986 and 1989, while he was a tutor at Shebbear College in Devon. The offences against the children in Devon were discovered during the investigation into complaints in Kenya, when an extensive check was done into Harris's past.

Images from a promotional video shows boys playing outside the property where others were abused
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